US Retail Sales Drop 0.4% MoM in February Despite Year-Over-Year Increase

US retail sales fell 0.4% month-on-month in February, according to the US Census Bureau.[0] This was slightly worse than the market expectation for a decrease of 0.3%.[1] Excluding automotive, core retail sales dropped by 0.1%, compared to the 2.3% rise in the previous month.[2]

Mastercard SpendingPulse reported that retail sales (excluding automotive) were up 6.9% year-over-year in February in the US.[3] In-store sales in the country were up by 5.5% year-over-year for the same month. The December 2022 to February 2023 period saw total sales increase 6.4% year-over-year.[4]

Winter weather activity in many parts of the country kept consumers indoors, resulting in a 13.2% year-over-year increase in e-commerce sales.[3] The in-store sales increased by 5. In January, in-store sales saw an 8.9% increase.[5]

UK consumers cut back their spending in February due to soaring living costs, with total sales up 5.2% compared to a year earlier.[6] The increase, however, was largely due to high inflation, which led to an increase in the value of goods sold, disguising lower sales volumes.[7]

Retailers are dealing with an unstable economic environment. As April approaches, many consumers are anxious about the expected increase in energy prices and taxes. David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “The challenges for retail are far from being in the rear-view mirror and the costs crunch affecting households and firms could make for a bumpy few months ahead.”[8]

It is expected to be a difficult time ahead with a decrease in actual consumer expenditure, and as people opt to shop for specific events, retailers are going all out to make Easter and Mothers’ Day profitable.[8] In February, shoppers continued to be cautious with their non-essential purchases, resulting in a decrease in the sales of clothing, footwear, and accessories, which had been a major factor in spending for many months prior.[9] As energy, broadband, mobile phone and council tax bills are expected to rise, people are looking for ways to spend less money and are making changes to their shopping habits, what they buy, and cutting back on activities like eating out and getting takeaways.[9]

0. “US: Retail Sales Soften in February, Meeting Consensus Expectations” Action Forex, 15 Mar. 2023,

1. “US: Retail Sales decline by 0.4% in February vs. -0.3% expected” FXStreet, 15 Mar. 2023,

2. “When are US monthly Retail Sales figures and how could they affect EUR/USD?” FXStreet, 15 Mar. 2023,

3. “In-store sales in US rise 5.5% YoY in Feb 2023: Mastercard”, 13 Mar. 2023,

4. “Retail Sales Fall In February, Marginally More Than Expected – SPDR S&P 500 (ARCA:SPY)” Benzinga, 15 Mar. 2023,

5. “Mastercard SpendingPulse: Retail sales up 6.9% year-over-year in February” Chain Store Age, 9 Mar. 2023,

6. “Shoppers rein in spending as living costs rise – Financial News”, 9 Mar. 2023,

7. “UK shoppers slash spending as price rises and energy bills bite” The Guardian, 6 Mar. 2023,

8. “Scottish retail sales rise for fourth month in row as grocery inflation hits 24-year high – SRC” The Scotsman, 15 Mar. 2023,

9. “Valentine’s Day Rescued Feb’s Retail Figures” Morningstar, 7 Mar. 2023,